Roger Diez: The most important trophy isn’t in racing | NevadaAppeal.com

Roger Diez: The most important trophy isn’t in racing

Roger Diez

I don’t usually do this, but this week I’m going to get a little personal. This year is a milestone year for me, because it marks 50 years since I got involved in racing on the inside. Starting as a turn worker at Sears Point (now Sonoma) I have seldom missed a race since. My racing jobs have included turn marshal, communicator, starter, driver, pit crew, reporter, publicist, and announcer. Currently I’m writing this column for the Appeal and announcing at Fernley 95A Speedway. But while they’re racing tonight at Fernley’s clay oval, I won’t be there. That’s because something even more important happened to me on this day, Aug. 17, in 1969. I married the love of my life, my beautiful wife Sharon, who agreed to spend part of our honeymoon at Laguna Seca for a race. We’re celebrating our 50th anniversary this evening. She’s been with me and supported my racing habit for 50 years, and she deserves a trophy for that.

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OK, back to what you came for, the racing news. Formula One is on their summer break, IndyCar was idle last weekend, but all three of NASCAR’s touring divisions were in action. I made a slight goof last week, listing the Gander Outdoor Truck series on Friday night when in fact they raced at Michigan on Saturday. Austin Hill scored his second win of the season. It was the final regular season race for the Trucks, so their playoff field of eight is set.

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Kevin Harvick won the Michigan Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race on Sunday, holding off a charging Denny Hamlin with Kyle Larson third. Clint Bowyer dropped to 16th in points, the last playoff spot, after a crash. With just three regular season races remaining, Daniel Suarez and Jimmie Johnson are now below the cut line by minus six and minus 12 points respectively and are the only drivers with realistic chances of advancement into the playoff field without winning.

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Austin Cindric won his second Xfinity race of the year last weekend at Mid-Ohio. Xfinity mirrors the Cup series with the top drivers having multiple wins. Christopher Bell and Cole Custer have scored five victories each, Tyler Reddick has three wins and the points lead, while Cindric now has two.

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This weekend, it’s Bristol, Baby! All three NASCAR touring divisions are on the schedule, but two of them have already completed their races. Brett Moffitt won the truck race Thursday, but the Xfinity race ran after my deadline. Tonight, it’s the Cup guys’ turn, and based on past experience you can bet the various teams’ body shops will be busy next week. The Busch brothers have dominated Bristol the past couple of years, winning last four outings there. Kyle won three, with Kurt on top last August. Kyle has eight total Bristol wins dating back to 2007, while Kurt has four. Other winners among active drivers in the last 10 years are Johnson, Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano with two apiece and Denny Hamlin with one.

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While NASCAR’s regular season winds down, so does NTT IndyCar season with just 4 races remaining. This weekend the series is at Pocono, a bad luck track and the site of Robert Wickens’ crippling crash in 2018 and the death of Justin Wilson in 2015. Since the top U.S. open-wheel series returned to the track in 2013, five drivers have won. Last year it was Alexander Rossi while Will Power (who needs a win to keep his 12-season winning streak alive) won the two previous years. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon are the other two active drivers with Pocono wins. The track also hosted the USAC Champ Car series from 1971-1981 and the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) from 1980-1989.